by Mary Ducharme (August 2016)
On June 21, a new beginning in Hemmingford: the Archives, in existence for 25 years, signed a deed of gift from the St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Congregation. While the former church hall at 517 Champlain Avenue is presently an empty Quonset that has seen little use for many years, that is about to change.
The Hemmingford Archives is an all-volunteer historical association, incorporated and with official charitable status. Its mandate is to act as trustee of the history of Hemmingford and surrounding region so that it is preserved in its place of origin. Over decades community volunteers have donated vast amounts of time to research, collect, preserve and organize the growing collections in keeping with good archival standards. To assist these efforts, donated funds have made it possible to sustain development.
From working in one small room, the Archives will now have approximately 3,850 square feet of space. Originally, the Archives was located in a room in the basement of the Town Hall, but since 2013, Archives Room 111 at the Hemmingford Elementary School on Champlain Street has been home for the group. The New Frontiers School Board was happy to accommodate the Archives, the Municipality agreed to pay rental for the room, and the association at the school has been a positive experience. However, there is no longer enough space: the former school library room, like the Town Hall location, was outgrown.
With grants, local fund-raising, and determination, the Quonset will be transformed into a centre de patrimoine, or local history centre. While waiting for approval of grant applications, planning continues for major renovation. The building is sturdy in structure, has an ideal location and it can be beautifully functional. Plans for the interior design maximizes flexibility in the usage of space. The building will also feature complete accessibility on two floor levels to accommodate the physically handicapped and older volunteers and clients. The new front facade design will complement the nearby church in keeping with the character of Hemmingford.
The objective of the new facility is to provide an inviting environment for the public to research family or regional history with the assistance of knowledgeable staff, and to be a venue to host history-related events. The plans include efficient work spaces for staff and volunteers to enable heritage programming that includes oral history interviews, history writing and publishing, activities for students and adults, demonstrations, speakers, exhibits, and liaison with projects with other historical societies. The new facility will open up potentials yet to be explored.
The near future promises to be very busy for its Board of Directors. The Archives is renewing efforts to reach out to the surrounding communities. At a recent conference sponsored by the Archives titled “The Future is Now, Let’s Pay it Forward”, interested delegates provided many ideas for expanding the base of community involvement in activities, and in the fall of this year there will be a follow-up conference to set specific projects in motion regarding fund-raising, increased volunteerism, and publicity.
The Board extends a welcome to all with historical interests to contact the Archives to become actively involved, whether for a particular short term project or for more long-term commitment. Visit us and find out more! “We have challenges ahead of us and we stand ready,’’ says Mary Ducharme, Archives president, “but we need more people involved to help us go forward – people exactly like yourself.”
We are presently located in Room 111 at the Hemmingford Elementary School, on 548 Champlain Avenue. Our hours are 9am to 3pm on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or by appointment. Cell phone for Archives: 514-778-2845
Facebook group: Archives Hemmingford e-mail : email@example.com
(Note: this e-mail also reaches Mary Ducharme and Myrna Paquette at their homes).